Category Archives: Just the Facts

The Impact of Economic Inequality

“Marshalling a formidable wealth of data, Wilkinson
and Pickett plot a range of negative outcomes –
reduced life expectancy, low educational
qualifications, high crime, high proportions of
teenage pregnancies, high incidences of mental
health problems – against the level of income
inequality within countries. In case after case a
strong trend emerges: those countries, including
the UK and US, with a higher degree of disparity
between the highest 20% and lowest 20% incomes
fare worse on measure after measure than more
socially equal countries such as Japan, Sweden
and Norway. So, while the poor in the highly
unequal USA may be richer than the poor
elsewhere (in terms of purchasing power), they fare
significantly worse than their ‘poorer’ peers in
more equal countries. In highly unequal countries,
the difference in outcomes between the richest
and poorest is seen more at every point along the
scale; in unequal countries, people who are just a
bit poorer than the richest experience many more
problems. While these problems are felt most
keenly at the bottom end of the scale, they extend
the whole of the way up, meaning that countries
with greater inequality have more problems as a
whole.” — Source